i’m sorry it took me so long to come around

i was a scene kid growing up. i spent most friday and saturday nights at shows from local bands that most of you have never heard of. bands like mercy mercedes, or monday in london, or brentwood, or osf, or three stars left, or one of a hundred other bands that only lasted for two months. in my little area of redneck north carolina there weren’t many true venues so we’d have shows at churches, basements, and even next to a guy’s pool one time. i was introduced to the scene my freshman year of high school and was hooked.

music became my thing. i stopped playing sports and started focusing all of my attention on playing, listening to, and being around music. i was in the marching band, concert band, jazz band, pep band, and a terrible ska band. i even did an internship for a couple of months teaching middle school band.

i was a music geek.

i mentioned in part one of this series that i stopped going to church around the time that i was 16 or so. i still called myself a christian but i never read my bible and i wasn’t around other christians very much. i prayed though. i prayed a lot. i prayed for god to give me a group of friends. i prayed for him to make my life less miserable. i prayed for a girlfriend.

i prayed for me.

i spent all of this time praying and hearing nothing back. this is when i started feeling like if god was out there he must’ve been dealing with other people’s problems like geo said in “church.” if god had heard my prayer, surely he would say something, right?

this is a common feeling. i know a ton of people who would claim that they’d never heard from god. macklemore is actually one of those people. in this song that we’ve been looking at, “church,” he writes:

the only time i felt like i was talking to god
was in my walkman walking with nas

that statement sums up my relationship with god from the time i was a kid up until the time i was about to graduate from seminary. he didn’t talk. the only thing that made any sense to me was the lyrics from my favorite bands. none of the church stuff or the god stuff ever sank in.

the thing that i didn’t realize, and i bet it’s the same thing that macklemore didn’t realize, was that god uses a lot of different things to get our attention and speak to us.

the first semester of my sophomore year of college was one of the loneliest times of my life. i was in school nine miles from myrtle beach and should’ve been having the time of my life. but i wasn’t. i remember being on my couch with all of the lights off, physically crying and asking god why i was so unhappy. it was that moment that i heard god talk back for the first time: he told me it was because i wasn’t where i was supposed to be and he had something different for me.

in the weeks after that, there was a line from a song that got stuck in my head and wouldn’t leave. the line was simple and all it said was, “jesus, i’m ready to come home.” fast forward a few more weeks to november and i left the beach to visit some friends at another school. while i was there, i happened to go to church with them. right in the middle of the service i remember thinking, “this is home, isn’t it?”

what i didn’t realize was that the line that was stuck in my head for weeks wasn’t just a line of a song. it was a prayer. it was the deepest desire within me. i wanted to go home, wherever that may be. not only did god know that was my desire, and not only did he provide fulfillment for that desire, he knew my heart so well that he gave me the words to pray, even when i didn’t realize i was praying it.

it’s amazing how close we can be to god without even realizing it. i don’t know what macklemore was listening to and i don’t know how much the lyrics spoke to him, but i do know the lyrics that stuck out to me as a kid growing up. i look back to some of those lyrics now knowing that god does speak and he is active and i realize that he was trying so hard to get my attention.

we serve a god that, while knowing everything about everyone and able to do anything that he wants, refuses to over take us. he’s not going to beat down the door and push his way in. he’s going to try to get your attention through whatever it takes. it could be pop culture. it could be nature. it could be one of a million things.

here’s my challenge for you this weekend. it’s a simple one, but it’s one that could be hugely impactful. be attentive to the things that catch your attention. when something piques your interest, or when something gets stuck in your head, don’t be so quick to shake it off or throw it away. many times this is how god is trying to get our attention so that he can invite us to join him in something that he’s doing.

where’s he getting your attention?

how’s he talking to you?

are you willing to listen?

if you are, it’ll change your life.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.

-jonathan

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